This is a story of how a King’s Outstretched Scepter saved his Queen, her people and granted an 11-year old their long held dream.
My thoughts and recollections were becoming somewhat cloudy. Was what I was thinking and feeling real? Is that it! My, oh my, do I hope so. It would be fantastic!!! My dreams realized!!!
© 2010 BY Rami
This is the first attempt at creative writing since I was a sophomore in college. I hope it entertains and meets with your approval.
I want to thank my friend Andrea Lena DiMaggio for reading this story, proofing it, and making constructive suggestions. Andrea's light touch is truly appreciated. Many thanks Andrea. I also want to thank Erin and Puddintane who help with some advise to move this from my word processor to being able to post it.
I have included a glossary at the end of the story that explains some of the words that I have used. Hopefully, it will help you to better understand the story.
Hamantaschen! I awoke suddenly; one of my last memories was my family looking at pictures, in our Purim photo album. My parents have been taking pictures of our family dressed in Purim costumes forever. The first picture in the album shows them in college. It continued yearly, through last year.
Of course, this year’s pictures were still in our digital camera. I have dressed or been dressed in a Purim costume every year since I was a toddler. My first picture in a costume was probably taken when I was about 16 months old. I was dressed as a Hamantaschen... My older brother, Michael’s and sister, Ellen's first pictures were identical; they were also dressed as Hamantaschen. I guess Mom and Dad thought it cute and wanted their three kids dressed exactly alike at least once in their lives.
As I rubbed sleep out of my eyes, everything seemed strange. I felt different. I then recalled the events of yesterday, especially of last night. I remembered the tingling I felt during the reading of the Megilah. It started just as King Ahasuerus stretched out his scepter to Queen Esther. My thoughts and recollections were becoming somewhat cloudy. Was what I was thinking and feeling real? Is that it! My, oh my, do I hope so. It would be fantastic!!! My dreams realized!!!
By the way, since you are listening into my thoughts, let me introduce myself. “My name is Robyn Esther Mazel; my Jewish name is Rachel Hadassah bat Yackov.”
What? Is that what I just said? It can’t be! Can it? Why is it that I remember that my name, is…may…be.. was? At least until yesterday it was Robert Ian Mazel, my Jewish name was Raphael Yitzchak ben Yackov.
“What’s going on”, I exclaimed to myself. I was a boy wasn’t I? Or am I a girl? Why am I using a girl’s name? A girl’s name that I had wished was mine for many years.
You may ask, why it is important that you know my Hebrew name? Well, it’s important because, it seems that everything that is happening, this magnificent and magical change occurred last night, Saturday night, during the Purim service at our synagogue.
For those who do not know what Purim is, allow me to explain. Purim is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (usually in March). It celebrates a great victory of the Jewish people over wicked Haman (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger), the villain of the story, who wanted to kill all the Jews. He was as evil as Hitler (Yamach Sh’mo — May his name be erased).
The hero of the story is Mordecai, who was the leader of the Jewish Community living in Shushan the capital city of the Persia. The heroine is his cousin and ward, the beautiful and courageous Hadassah or Esther as she is normally known.
The other main protagonist is King Ahasuerus, the King of Persia, Medina and 70 other countries from India to Ethiopia. King Ahasuerus, who could be very evil, had his wife, Queen Vashti, killed because she refused to attend a massive banquet he was throwing, wearing only her crown. After he killed her, he held a beauty contest to find a replacement. Esther won and became Queen.
Haman (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger), who was one of the King’s top ministers and advisors, hated Mordecai and the Jews. He hatched a plan to have each and every Jew in the Kingdom killed. He chose the day to do so by casting lots (Purs) and the date to do so was Adar 13. Haman (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger) convinced the King to do so, and an edict was issued allowing the massacre. Mordecai learned of this and advised Esther of the plot. At first Esther was hesitant to act, but then Mordecai cautioned her, that her failure to act would not protect her. He chastised her and said,
“Do not imagine you will escape inside the royal palace any more than the rest of the Jews, If you remain silent at such a time as this, relief and deliverance for the Jews will appear from some other quarter, but you and your father's house will perish.”
Esther, understood what she had to do, what she was destined to do and wholeheartedly agreed to help her people. She concocted a plan to do so.
After fasting for three days, she would approach the King. This was very dangerous; because anyone not invited to see him, and who came within the Royal Throne room was subject to death. Remember, the King was very temperamental and had killed the previous Queen. Esther had not seen the King for thirty days and was fearful. Nevertheless, she decided to risk her life. She hoped and prayed that the King would allow her to enter the throne room and talk with him. She knew that he would signal his acceptance by extending his hand with his outstretched Golden Scepter. She went to the throne room and entered. She approached the King; he smiled, and stretched out his Scepter. Esther was not in danger, she was safe.
Through some cunning and planning she advised her husband the King of Haman's (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger) plot to kill all the Jews and that, because she was Jewish (which the King and Haman (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger) did not know) she would suffer the same fate as her kinsmen.
The King allowed the Jewish people to defend themselves and they achieved a great victory. Haman (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger), and his ten sons were all hung. In fact, Haman’s (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger) gallows was one he built especially for Mordecai. The Jewish people of the time defeated their enemy. Afterwards the Jews celebrated their victory. If you really want to know more you can read the “whole Megilah.”
So we still celebrate Purim today. How do we do it? Several ways. We go to Synagogue and hear the Megilah read. Whenever Haman’s (Boo Hiss - sound of a grogger) name is mentioned we all make noise, yell and shout and swing a grogger. We give gifts, and have parties. But most importantly for me, all the kids and even some of the adults get to dress up in costumes. Some of the costumes relate to the story and others don’t.
Growing up, I knew that my parents loved me. They gave my siblings and me all they could. Anything we needed was given to us. I do not mean just money or things. They were there when we needed them. They helped us when we needed help with school work, took us places and generally listened when we talked and discussed our problems.
I don’t know what they would have said or done if I had talked to them about my greatest and deepest secret. My heartfelt and deep desire to be a girl. A desire that I had had since I was at least five years old. I had hoped they wouldn’t laugh , because they never laughed at anything we said, even if one of us came up with a really stupid idea. But I was afraid and never told them.
Even when I prayed to change, I was careful to do it silently. Even though I wanted desperately to dress like a girl, I never did so. I never even tried on my sister’s clothes even though her room was next door and we shared a bathroom and a hamper. The most I ever did was touch her clothes lovingly, when I helped with the wash. I never even thought of wearing my mom’s clothes.
Only two people knew anything about my hopes and desires; my Bubby Elaine, and my cousin Susan. Susan was my mother’s sister’s daughter. They lived only three houses down the block from us, and she was 3 days older than me; a fact that she never let me forget. We went to the same school and were in the same class. We used to do many things together, and hung out a lot.
One time, when my parents had to go out of town for a convention for my dad’s business, my brother, sister and I got to stay with family or friends for five days. I stayed with my Aunt Dottie and her family. Susan and I were together almost the whole time. I must have been eight at the time and already knew that I should have been a girl. Susan and I spent the entire five days together. Since we were only eight, and no one apparently thought too much about it I got to sleep on a cot in her room. I was envious of her pretty clothes. I was envious of all of her dolls. I was envious of her gorgeous room. I got so envious and excited being so close to everything I desired that I blurted out how I felt. I remember to this day what I said. I shouted,
“Susan you are so lucky to be a girl. I wish I was a girl just like you and Ellen. I just love everything about being a girl. I know I’m one inside”.
I immediately froze. My deepest secret was out. I knew that I was doomed. Luckily for me, at least I thought so at the time, she thought I was being silly and said so. But she also said,
“Okay Robert, if you want to be a girl, I will help you be one for the rest of the week.”
I took the name Robyn and spent the rest of the week - four glorious days, playing with her and acting like a girl whenever we were alone. I got to dress once or twice, but only for a few minutes. I felt so happy and content, but it all ended too quickly. I don’t think anyone knew what happened; at least no one brought it up again except for Susan. We occasionally talked about my girl time. I’m pretty sure she kept my secret.
As I said the other person that knew was my Bubby Elaine, who is my dad’s mom. She knew my secret. How did she learn of it? I would say it was Bubby or Grandma’s intuition, something that I know both of my grandmas possess. But I think I might have given it away, at least partially.
The kitchen, especially when she was baking, was Bubby’s realm. She was always baking and the smells emanating from her oven were would cause you to salivate. Bubby was a no-nonsense lady. All of her grandchildren, all ten of us, were recruited to help in the kitchen when we came to visit. Boys and girls helped equally. The punishment for not helping or griping too much was to not share in the sweets that popped out of her oven. That was a fate that no one, not even my oldest and most macho cousin would contemplate.
I forgot why, but for some reason I was visiting Bubby alone. There were no siblings or cousins present. I was helping her bake. Being a fastidious person, she always had her helpers wear an apron. She had dozens for us to choose from. I did not realize it at first, but, as it turned out, I always picked the frilliest, most delicate and feminine apron available. No one but Bubby seemed to take notice of this. So on this occasion, when I was alone with her, she offered me the pick of the aprons. But Bubby was crafty. She arranged the aprons in such a way that the plainest aprons including the ones that Zaide used to use when grilling were on top. Not seeing the trap she had laid for me I rummaged through the aprons looking for my favorite, one I had never worn before, a girl cousin, always claimed it. I found it. Yes, it was frilly, it had bows, it was pink, and it had pictures of little girls in aprons on it and said “Grandma’s granddaughter helper.” I put it on without a thought or care in the world. I did not realize it at the time but Bubby had been watching me carefully. I now realize amazingly, that this had happened two years ago while we were baking Hamantaschen. We started to prepare the filling, and Bubby quite gently asked,
“Raphael (she always called me by my Hebrew Name”) why did you choose that pretty frilly apron from amongst all the others?”
I heard the words pretty and frilly and froze like a dear in a car’s headlights. I started to stutter and all that came out of my mouth probably sounded like “Huh, dud, and nuh”. I finally said in a quite tiny voice,
“Bubby it’s an apron, I just grabbed the first one I saw”. Well I got one of Bubby’s looks, a look that made you know that you were caught and had better surrender quickly. She said,
“Tatala, please never lie to me. I can accept an explanation that I may not agree with, but never lie to me.”
As I sunk lower to the ground, she continued,
“You ignored all the aprons on top, all the plain one’s and even Zaide’s apron. I saw you hunting for something specific. You choose the one you are wearing on purpose. It is the perfect apron for one of my beautiful granddaughters, but I am not sure that it is one that I think most boys would wear.”
I immediately started crying. She immediately scooped me into her arms, and starting rocking me and saying,
“Child, Raphael, Robert my love, it will be okay. Please stop crying and tell me what is wrong”.
After a few minutes I stopped crying and calmed down. I said to her ,
“Bubby, I am okay; let’s get back to the Hamantaschen”.
She would have none of that. I finally told her my deepest darkest secret. I started crying again and knew the next thing was that she would stop loving me, and would call my parents to pick me up and never let me return again. But that did not happen. Instead she said,
“Maidalla, it will be all right, Bubby will try and make it better”.
She had called me maidalla. Did she really say that? We then continued to bake, and we discussed how I felt. She agreed to try and help me as best as she could, and agreed not to tell her son, my dad or my mom.
She did make me promise to be careful and think very hard about what I was saying. She said that I would probably change my mind when I started to become a man. I knew she was wrong, but that was okay. At least she would not divulge my secret.
Whenever I visited her alone, she had my favorite apron waiting for me. She also allowed me to play with all of the girl toys, like dolls that she kept for her granddaughters. When I was there with my cousins or my siblings, she had a special apron, put aside just for me. It was not girly or frilly, but it was slightly feminine, but still did not raise any questions from the others that were around.
As I mentioned before, part of celebrating Purim was to dress in a costume. Costumes were of all types and styles; from traditional ones to more contemporary such as the latest super hero or rock star. It was strange, but not totally uncommon to see a younger boy dressed like a girl, or even a man dressed like a woman. The spirit of the holiday was such to allow this to happen. In fact, as attested to by the family album, I must have dressed in my sister’s ballet costume when I was about four years old.
Knowing this I decided to become the girl I wanted to be, even if it was only for the one night and maybe the next day. I started my campaign; yes it was a campaign, before Hanukkah. I even asked that one of my presents for Hanukkah, be a Queen Esther costume to wear for Purim. I of course was ignored. But the seed was planted. I continued my onslaught, on a regular basis. I did not give up. I went to costume stores and got copies of brochures for Queen and Princess costumes. I went on the Internet and downloaded pictures of what I wanted to wear. I fought a battle to wear everyone down.
Luckily, I had two wonderful allies. My cousin Susan, who surprisingly with her mom (had Susan told her my secret) worked on Mom. Susan said we could go as twin Queens, and therefore I would not look out of place. But my champion, and the one who finally carried the day for me was “Bubby the Magnificent”, my great heroine. From the start she argued my case, and finally after having a private conversation with my dad, from which he walked out very quietly (I wonder what happened there. I don’t think that I will ever know), my parents relented and agreed to let me be Queen Esther for both Purim night and Purim day. I felt fantastic!
Grandma Ricki, my mom’s mom, was as great a seamstress as Bubby was a baker. She made her own clothes and always sewed costumes for everyone. While she wasn’t happy at first, she agreed to make Susan and me matching costumes. I got to have mine made in pink and Susan’s was in purple. The outfits were beautiful.
Bubby, Grandma and Grandpa, Susan’s entire family, Mom and Dad, and Michael and Ellen were all going to Shul together. We were all in costume, even my older brother; he was sixteen and thought it was stupid for him to be in a costume. But mom and dad insisted and he was smart enough not to make an issue. Except for Susan and I the rest of the costumes were quite simple.
Susan and I got dressed. Aunt Dottie and Grandma helped Susan dress and Bubby and mom helped me dress. The gown was beautiful. They even placed a tiny bit of makeup on me and Grandma, who still owned some clip on earrings, gave me a pair to wear. Susan had real pierced ears; I wished I had them too, but I knew to leave well enough alone and not risk that my request to have my ears pierced would backfire. Susan lent me a necklace and a bracelet.
The synagogue was packed, as it always was for Purim. Almost everyone had some form of costume, even if it was only a silly hat worn by the older men or a scarf or shawl worn by some women.
As always the services were running late. I knew lots of people there. Some were my friends. Some were my neighbors. Some were kids from school, or my Hebrew School or my youth group. I must have known at least 30 kids around my age alone. Most of them recognized me despite my costume. That really was not surprising, since most knew my parents whom I walked in with or my cousin whose outfit matched mine. I was teased by some, complimented by others, and I was actually told how beautiful I was (I think they were kidding). Only three kids, a girl and two boys gave me real grief, but they were the known bullies. I just ignored them.
The Rabbi, gave a clop on the Bimah, and started the Buruchas. He began chanting from the Megilah. The Megilah is a long piece of parchment on which the story of Esther is written. The story is lengthy and normally takes about 30 minutes to chant for an average reader. It is read aloud in Hebrew, but the congregation can also follow in the printed Megilah, that normally have the Hebrew on one side and English across from it. I understood Hebrew, enough that by catching some words, I was able to keep pace with the chanting.
We were now approaching one of the critical moments, we were getting to the part where Esther, my heroine, was planning on risking her life by approaching the King. After all these years, I knew the story well; the Rabbi began chanting the words which translated into English read,
“When the King noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, she won his favor. The King extended to Esther the golden scepter which he was holding and Esther touched the tip of the scepter”.
As he chanted “the second scepter,” I felt a strange tingling throughout my body. A tingling that I had never felt before started at the bottom of my toes and worked its way up my body; touching and enveloping every inch of it. The feeling came and went quickly. After it was done I felt different then I had before. That feeling continued for the rest of the night. However, the tingling had no immediate outward manifestation. I did not tell my folks or anyone else. The Rabbi finished the reading, and we stayed around for another hour or so, having Hamantaschen, soda, and other treats.
We got home at about 11:00 P.M. and I was tired. Mom helped me get the dress off. She wanted to take the dress out of the room, but after arguing I got my way and she agreed to hang the dress on my closet door. I didn’t need to use the bathroom and jumped into bed. I didn’t change into pajamas, and just left my underwear on and grabbed a tee-shirt. I fell asleep staring at the dress, knowing that I would never wear something that pretty ever again.
As I said at the beginning, I awoke feeling strange and different. I was now fully awake. I was fully conscious. I was no longer thinking of picture albums. I knew for sure that something wonderful, marvelous and miraculous had happen last night. I knew that I was now a girl, truly, I did. I felt it or saw it from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. My brunette hair was now long, very long and silky reaching to the middle of my back. My skin was smooth. My nose was pert.
As I moved lower, I reached my now, just budding, but noticeable bobbies. I had breasts; I had hoped to have the pleasure of this sensation ever since, I saw how happy my sister Ellen was when she started growing hers about three years ago. I saw the bra, yes my bra, my beautiful pink training bra that was laid across my bright white vanity, that I had AA sized breasts. Small? Not at all. They were mine, all mine and I knew they would grow. If I developed like my sister was doing now, and like mom, and Aunt Dottie, then I will be quite proud of them when I grew up.
I looked at my hands and my toes and noticed that I had nail polish on them. I seemed to recall that they matched the lipstick I had worn the night before; how nice. I remembered the King stretching out his scepter to Queen Esther. The tingling started at that moment. In reality he had stretched out his scepter to me. To me, to Robyn Esther Mazel; to Rachel Hadassah bat Yackov. The King had obviously reached out to me since I shared a name with the Queen. A miracle had happened; I had changed from a boy to a beautiful girl.
I realized that I was wearing a very pretty nightie and matching panties. I hoped, beyond hope, that what was to be seen under those panties went along with the rest of my new body. The last I remembered looking or having anything to do with that part of my body was when I went into the men’s bathroom, just prior to the start of services the night before. I had to pee, and did so that time, like any normal boy. Even with the Queen Esther costume on, I was still wearing boys’ underpants; I had to use the men’s room and just stood by the urinal and did my business. Was that going to be the last time I stood to pee? My gosh, I hoped so.
I then stood up, placed a finger on the hem of my panties and pulled them slightly open, and took a look. I must have scared the entire neighborhood and surely woken anyone sleeping in my house by the scream of joy that came out of my mouth. I no longer had that penis that I had hoped and prayed would disappear, probably on a daily basis, since I was about six. It had been replaced by, well since I want to be considered a proper young lady, a vagina. No vulgarity from me. I won’t use any of those other words, like pussy, now would I? No not me.
I knew it wasn’t a dream, I knew when I heard my mom yell from downstairs,
“Robyn, are you okay, is everything all right, why are you screaming like a nudnik?”
She called me Robyn. Yes she did. The next thing, Ellen opened my door without knocking (which she never did when I was Robert) and yelled at me,
“Get a move on Sis, get your tuch out of bed or we will be late for the Purim Carnival. Hurry up and put your leotard, tights and dance skirt. We have to give that dance recital Mom promised we would do.”
A Ballet recital, how great. It was when I was five or six and taking tap lessons at the same school where my sister took ballet, that I would look at all the girls in their leotards and tutus and envy them, knowing that that was how I was meant to be. That I was truly a girl and not a boy. I wonder what we would be dancing.
Something from the Nutcracker? Nah, wrong time of year, and wrong holiday. I found the leotard, tights and dance skirt in my closet, where I noticed all of my beautiful girl clothes. How wonderful.
I would not miss too much not wearing my Queen Esther costume, wearing my dance clothes would more than compensate.
As I went down stairs, I took the time to look at our Purim album. I opened the album and turned quickly to the first page that included me in a costume. Were the pictures of me those or Robert or those of Robyn? Robyn, please I wished! I looked, and it was still the same picture as was in the book that the family had looked at yesterday afternoon. I got scared. I was dressed just like the same Hamantaschen. There was no difference. I was frightened. Was I dreaming? Was I still a boy? Did nothing miraculous happen? Did the King not stretch out his scepter to me, at the same time that he stretched it out to Queen Esther? I tried to hold back the tears that were starting to form.
I trembled with fear as I turned to the page for the next year. The picture that had always been there was of a little boy, who was dressed as Mordecai. The picture that was there was NEW; it showed our family, but instead of Mom and Dad, one girl and two boys, there were now two girls. The little one, obviously me, was dressed as a bride.
I flipped through the rest of the pages. There were always two daughters. I was always dressed very girly, I was always a queen, a princess, a gymnast, a ballerina, or a cheerleader. I was never even once dressed like a boy would have been. All truly wonderful girl costumes. I was ecstatic, I could not have been happier. The scepter that had been extended to Queen Esther by THE KING had surly been extended to me. I hope that my miracle came from the same place like Queen Esther's. Finally, I realized my fears on seeing that first picture had been were for naught. It is funny, but a Hamantaschen looks like a Hamantaschen, no matter if a boy or a girl is in the costume.
FOLLOW more of Robyn's adventures in "A MIRACLE LOST - A MIRACLE REGAINED". Does Robyn return to being Robert and loose the Purim Miracle or does she remain Robyn after strange adventures?
Hamantaschen - Purim cakes in the shape of Haman’s hat filled with prunes or other fillings.
Jewish/Hebrew name — Many Jews in the U.S. have a name often biblical in nature that they use for religious purposes. This duality developed as people strive to have a “non-Jewish” sounding name for secular purposes and to blend in.
Megilah — Scroll containing the Purim story.
Grogger — A spinning device to create noise.
Shul — A synagogue or Temple.
Bubby — Grandmother.
Zaide — Grandfather.
Tatala- An affectionate diminutive term for grandson
Mamala — An affectionate diminutive term for granddaughter
Maidalla — A young girl.
Bimah — Platform from were certain prayers are said and the Torah read.
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